OUR JAWS GET a pretty constant workout between all the talking, chewing, and yawning we do, but those simple activities become more complicated for those with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD or TMJ). There’s a small, fibrous disk that serves as a cushion between the ball and socket of the joint. If it shifts out of place or erodes, that leads to jaw trouble.
TMJ Disorder Symptoms and Remedies
Typical symptoms of a TMJ problem include tenderness or pain in the jaw, difficulty chewing, pain around the face or in the ear, and even locking of the jaw joint.
There are a few things to try for TMJ relief. Avoid making extreme jaw movements when singing or yelling, and control yawns by putting a fist under the chin. Make small movements while chewing, and rest with the jaws slightly apart instead of fully closed (a lot of people don’t realize that this is the natural position of the jaws).
Treatment for More Serious Cases
Most TMD cases resolve on their own, but persistent symptoms may need treatment. Typical TMD treatments include ice packs, exercise, moist heat, medication, and splints. If those don’t help, then the next steps often include ultrasound treatment, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or trigger-point injections. For the most extreme cases, jaw surgery may be recommended.
Bring Your TMD Symptoms to the Dentist
If the symptoms above are familiar to you, make sure to come and tell the dentist. If your regular cleaning appointment is months away, schedule one specifically to discuss TMD issues so that we can discover what’s causing the problem and recommend the best next steps to take.